Justin Watts: The inaugural year of ‘One Day Without Shoes’

It all began in 2009, Justin Watts and his Melbournian mates filmed a 10 mile crusade, from his house to TOMS‘s headquarters . The idea was simple, support the company’s first  “One day without shoes”.  Little did they know, that what started as a local company project, would became one of the most  supported and resonating causes worldwide.

 Four years later and almost 11, 000 views on you tube, Justin shared his experience with us:

By the time I arrived, I think there were 34 employees and 20 interns,  which is pretty reflective on how TOMS started. They hired interns from the very beginning, people that were passionate about the cause. At that point, the company had about 3 years of existence and they had made around 600k shoes. By the end of 2009 they reached the 1 millionth pair.

It’s a simple thing and it’s a noble thing, everyone can take off their shoes and at some point it feels a bit naughty, doesn’t it? In everyday life you got to  wear shoes and it’s like…  Whoa!   I’m not wearing shoes! It legitimizes it, because  deep down everyone wants to walk around barefoot, at some point, be a little bit crazy. People say:  This is the reason that I’m doing it and the reason is that a lot of kids do not have the luxury of wearing shoes. It’s a luxury that we take for granted, so it’s easy, it’s actionable and it tells the message right there.  Anyone can support it and afford to take their shoes off for a day.

He follows by describing his experience of the actual day:

It’s always the little things that happen that create your personal story. I remember that I had to get some groceries that day and I  took my bike through the manic traffic of L.A. While I pushed the metal pedals, I recall telling my self :  What am I doing ? I did legitimately get a blister… It was from the sand. 

I think that the whole day is about enabling people  to be a TOMS spokesperson,  to talk and demonstrate their opinion passionately. 

There is always more room for awareness. Knowing TOMS the way I do, they would never go and say: We are done,  lets kick back and relax.  It’s a very innovative company, so when an idea is presented that is fun and noble, they are likely to jump on it.


Interview by Martha Sanchez, Social Media, C2-MTL 2013.